Adam Jones drew a two-out walk from Chris Archer in the bottom of the 14th. Endy Chavez followed with a single to left before Manny Machado singled to left, just out of the reach of the diving Matt Joyce to drive home Jones with the winning run.
"Got those two quick outs," Archer said. "Tried to do a little too much to Adam Jones. He had a great at-bat. He's a great hitter. He laid off some good pitches. Walked him. Fell behind [to Machado], base hit. You guys saw it."
When Joyce dove, he appeared to make the catch, but third-base umpire Marvin Hudson signaled safe as Jones raced home with the winning run, giving the Orioles their second walk-off win in as many days.
"I thought he actually caught it, because I was running to back up home," Archer said. "I thought I saw it go in his glove."
Joyce noted that he shaded Machado toward the direction in which he ended up hitting the ball.
"I actually shaded him that way," Joyce said. "I shaded him to pull it down the line a couple of steps in because if there was a ball hit in the hole between third and short, I needed to have a chance to throw him out at the plate. I guess I just didn't shade him one step enough."
Joyce said he didn't know exactly what happened on the play.
"The only thing I can tell you is I didn't come up with it," Joyce said. "It's one of those tough plays. You give it your best shot. Sometimes you come down with it, sometimes you don't."
Getting to the 14th on Thursday was a story in itself.
Jeremy Hellickson pitched five-plus innings, allowing no runs on four hits before giving way to Jake McGee after J.J. Hardy singled to open the sixth.
McGee, who struck out all four batters he faced in Wednesday night's game, again looked overpowering. He struck out Lew Ford and Jones swinging before striking out Chris Davis looking to end the sixth.
Wade Davis started the seventh and mishandled a bunt by Machado, who led off the inning. Robert Andino drew a walk one out later before Taylor Teagarden doubled to right to score both runners and for a 2-1 Orioles lead.
Desmond Jennings walked to start the Rays' eighth, moved to second on Teagarden's passed ball and stole third when B.J. Upton went down swinging for the first out. Jennings then scored to tie the game at 2 on Ben Zobrist's single that dribbled to third.
Baltimore squandered a solid opportunity when Ford singled off Joel Peralta to lead off the eighth. He moved to third on Davis' one-out single to right. Pinch-runner Chavez stole second when Machado struck out for the second out before Peralta struck out Mark Reynolds to end the threat.
The Rays have struggled to get the big hit, and they could not produce it again in the ninth. Carlos Pena reached on a two-out double and Joyce was intentionally walked, but Jennings flew out to shallow center field to end the threat.
In an odd move in the top of the 10th, Archer came in to hit when Ryan Roberts had to leave after fouling a ball off his left ankle. Rays manager Joe Maddon explained that since he already had burned the DH, he planned on making a double switch anyway and Roberts would have left the game after his at-bat. But Roberts could not continue, so Maddon sent Archer to the plate with strict orders to not swing the bat. After working the count to 3-2, Archer watched strike three.
But on the weirdness scale, sending Archer up to hit paled in comparison to what happened in the 13th when the Orioles loaded the bases with no outs.
At that point, Reid Brignac entered the game as a fifth infielder, leaving the Rays with two outfielders. Andino then grounded to second baseman Elliot Johnson, who threw home for a forceout at the plate.
Matt Wieters pinch-hit for Teagarden and Archer fell behind in the count 3-0, but recovered to strike out the Orioles slugger for the second out.
The musical chairs then continued as Zobrist moved from shortstop to right field, Brignac took over at shortstop, and Joyce moved to left. Archer then struck out Nate McLouth to end the threat.
The Rays left for New York after the game to begin a weekend series against the Yankees on Friday. Joyce said the team had to quickly get over the disappointing loss.
"I think you have to," Joyce said. "There's really no time to sulk in baseball. You play every single day. We've got to go into New York and have another huge series for us. ... I think we'll be all right. It just wasn't the way we wanted it to go with this series."
Machado echoed the same sentiment from the winning clubhouse as the O's prepare to open a series Friday against the Athletics in Oakland.
"It feels great," Machado said. "... We're winning and we're having great success. The thing about this game is we worry about the game tomorrow. We've got a big series coming up. We've got to stay focused on what comes next."